Early this Summer, Rachel Bauman, the founder of the young dog gear company Whyld River, reached out to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse – use the new dog sleeping bag she has designed and let her know what I thought.
I jumped at the chance. I’m personally the guy who doesn’t blink an eye at carrying a few extra pounds in the form of an extra wide Big Agnes bag along with a 25” wide, 4” thick pad for myself. I’ve never been thrilled with options for my dog though. Even on a warm night, sleeping directly against the ground can be cold or damp, much less, uncomfortable.
In our worst experience, my first trail-dog Huron and I were backpacking in the Black Elk Wilderness in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We were expecting a comfortable warm long weekend but found ourselves on a freezing night in the high 20’s. I was wearing a jacket inside my light sleeping bag. Huron was sleeping on a fleece blanket with all my extra clothes draped over her. Neither of us slept well. Luckily, the rest of the trip was warm with comfortable nights.
After that trip, I was on the path for a real sleep system for Huron and later for my next trail dog, Cheyenne. We never really found what we were looking for. The Ruffwear Highlands sleep system came close. While it’s extremely well made, as you’d expect from Ruffwear gear, I wasn’t really happy with the smaller size and neither dog was comfortable being zipped into it. However, we definitely liked the available closed cell foam pad that insulated from the ground as it makes a nice pad to lounge on outside the tent as well.
Fast forward a couple years and the Whyld River DoggyBag arrived at our doorstep. Rachel recommended a size large, I was hopeful it would be big enough for Cheyenne who is a relatively lean 70 lb lab.
Sizing of the DoggyBag
The sleeping bag came rolled in its included stuff sack. The size of the stuffed bag was good. I immediately knew it would fit in Cheyenne’s backpack. My real surprise came when I pulled it out – it was huge! I couldn’t believe a piece of dog gear would pack down like this. It also immediately struck me that it was nice and light, no concerns about having it weigh Cheyenne down on the trail.
Sizing from Whyld River
- Small: 28” x 26” (24.7 oz / 1.54 lbs) fits most dogs up to 20lbs
- Medium: 38” x 29” (30 oz / 1.87 lbs) fits most dogs 21-50lbs
- Large: 50” x 36” (40.2 oz / 2.51 pounds) fits most dogs 51lbs and up
The sleeping bag uses lightweight ripstop nylon and synthetic fill. I like the synthetic fill from the perspectives of cost and continued insulation while damp. If your dog is anything like mine, she’s going to swim and she’s going to be damp despite my best efforts to keep her out of the water in the evening and drying her off a bit before getting in the tent. Something that will continue to keep her warm is key.
The bag uses small plastic snaps to attach the quilt to the pad as well as to fold back the quilt to keep it off your dog’s head. I definitely like this approach as Cheyenne doesn’t like to feel constricted. The snaps can pop open if she’s feeling a bit confined – something a zipper wouldn’t do without potential damage. I found that there are enough snaps around the perimeter to keep the quilt in place overnight, however, I did re-snap each morning as she inevitably popped a few open.
To keep your dog off the ground, the bottom of the pad has a sleeve which a regular 20” sleeping pad will fit in. This will give your dog more comfort and can battle heat loss on cold nights by adding more insulation from the ground. We used a Thermrest Z Lite which fit perfectly as well as a Ruffwear Highlands Foam Pad which is too wide for the sleeve but works fine just sitting underneath the bag.
The DoggyBag even has some reflective detail that will light up when hit with your headlamp in a dark tent.
Finally, the ripstop doesn’t allow much hair to stick and I found that the whole setup launders easily after a trip.
A Perfect Fit for Us
We spent the Summer and early Fall time using the DoggyBag all over. In the house, folded up to lay on top of during warm camping trips, cuddled in on a cooler night, some cold sub-30 degree nights in our camper, and even out in the yard.
I love the size and the weight isn’t too much to carry. The Whyld River DoggyBag has easily earned a top spot in our backpacking gear kit.
It’s not the cheapest piece of gear at $90 – $110 but I find it to be worth the cost in terms of its construction, features, and peace of mind it provides for keeping Cheyenne comfortable and safe.
Maybe Not for You If
We tend to add this section to our reviews to highlight any cons or even potential cons for some users that we see. To be honest, it’s a struggle to find any with the DoggyBag but let me give it a shot:
- It’s not in your budget.
As I noted, the DoggyBag runs $90 – $110 based on size. So, it may not work for everyone. If it is in your price range, I think you’ll find it worth the price tag.
- You travel only in warm weather.
If you only camp and backpack in warm weather with warm nights (whatever that means for your dog) the DoggyBag may be unnecessary. Even then I’d argue you can pack just the pad and have the quilt available if you branch out into some new territory or seasons.
Shut Up and Take My Money!
WhyldRiver finished their Kickstarter campaign at nearly around 2.5 times their goal! You can order now on their website for shipping in November 2018.
I truly dig the Whyld River DoggyBag dog sleeping bag. Its design is ingenious, the materials seem top-notch, and the construction is as good as any top brand you already know. I can’t wait to see what else they come up with!